Greg Fiume, Getty Images
April 8, 2012
This is the only legitimate position battle in the field this spring now that Robert Andino was traded to Seattle in November. First base is Chris Davis' to lose -- he would have to have a disaster in the field during Grapefruit League play not to have the job on Opening Day -- and McLouth likely will play most of the time in left field; the club won't risk Reimold's health by putting him in the field consistently early on.
Even more so than the leadoff role, second base is Roberts' if he proves he is healthy and can play every day. Those are two separate questions, though. Roberts has appeared in just 115 games over the past three seasons and he's now 35. He believes his concussion issues are behind him and that he's fully recovered from hip and sports hernia surgeries.
But last year he struggled at the plate after getting three hits in his season debut. By the end of his 17-game stint, he was batting .182 with a .233 on-base percentage, no homers and five RBIs. He had one hit in his final 25 at-bats.
Looking for a defensive upgrade, the Orioles claimed 28-year-old switch hitter Alexi Casilla (above)off waivers from the Minnesota Twins in November. Casilla will get the opportunity to be the club's everyday second baseman if Roberts can't rebound. It's possible he can beat out Roberts -- no matter the veteran's health situation -- with a great spring.
There are a couple of other options for the spot: Ryan Flaherty, the Orioles' Rule 5 pick last season who acquitted himself well at the end of the year, and Yamaico Navarro, acquired in a minor trade with the Pittsburgh Pirates in November. They are more likely to be in the mix for the utility infielder job.